Free VITA and TCE-IRS Tax Preparation Programs Available to the Public | Opinion

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It’s that time of year, TAX TIME! Where can you get your taxes prepared for free is a question that crosses the minds of most consumers right now.

The IRS’ Voluntary Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax preparation to qualified individuals. These services help people with low to middle incomes, people with disabilities, seniors and limited English speakers to file their tax returns each year.

The IRS’ Voluntary Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax preparation to qualified individuals. While the IRS administers the VITA and TCE programs, the VITA/TCE

the sites are operated by IRS partners and staffed by volunteers who want to make a difference in their communities.

The IRS VITA program has been running for over 50 years. VITA sites offer free tax assistance for people who need help preparing their own tax returns, including:

 People who typically earn $57,000 or less

 Persons with disabilities; and

 Limited English speaking taxpayers

VITA/TCE services are not only free, they are also a reliable and trustworthy source for tax preparation. All VITA/TCE volunteers who prepare returns must complete and pass tax law training that meets or exceeds IRS standards.

This training also includes maintaining confidentiality and confidentiality of all taxpayer information, which is very important as identity theft is prevalent during tax season.

In addition to requiring volunteers to certify their knowledge of tax laws, the IRS requires quality control of every return prepared on a VITA/TCE site prior to filing.

Before your visit to a VITA or TCE site, call to find out what services are provided and also ask them what to bring to ensure you have all the required documents and information that the volunteers will need to assist you. Also, not all sites prepare all types of returns. The services available may vary from site to site due to the availability of certified volunteers with the tax law expertise required for your return.

VITA and TCE sites are typically located in community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations across the country. To locate the VITA site nearest to you, use the VITA locator tool at https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ or call 800-906-9887.

When researching a TCE site, keep in mind that the majority of TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax Assistance Program.

To locate the nearest AARP TCE tax assistance site, use the AARP Site Locator Tool at http://www.aarp.org/applications/VMISLocator/searchTaxAideLocations.action or call 888-227-7669.

Southern Bancorp is again offering VITA, a free tax preparation service, at designated branches located in Arkansas and Mississippi. Be sure to call your local branch to find out if they prepare taxes and also ask for the start date. Also, some locations only offer virtual and deposit options.

For more information, call me at 662-624-5776 or email me at [email protected]

Until next week — Stay financially fit!

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